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49 minutes | 5 days ago
Northern Ireland: Past, Present, Future
In the latest in our series on the fate of the Union, we talk to historians Richard Bourke and Niamh Gallagher about the history of Northern Ireland's relationship to the rest of the UK. From the Anglo-Irish Union to partition to the Troubles to the Peace Process to Brexit and beyond, we discuss what makes Northern Irish politics so contentious and whether consensus is possible. Plus we ask if Irish re-unification is coming and what it might look like.Talking Points: The Anglo-Irish union was a response to the 1798 rebellion. It was a means of pacification through incorporation.The union in Ireland came before Catholic Emancipation, which took place in 1829. By then, a political movement based on disaffection had already commenced.In material terms, the union added 5 million new subjects (England at that time had a population of roughly 8 million). It also added a new dimension of grievances.The home rule movement was seeking a devolved administration, but failure to deliver that made the Irish Catholic movement more committed to independence.Meanwhile, Northern opinion became more alarmed about being subject to Southern jurisdiction.The Government of Ireland Act in 1920 formalized partition.Many politicians at the time hoped to see reunification within the context of the British Empire, but that did not come about.In Northern Ireland, proportional representation was abolished in local elections in 1923, and in general elections in 1929. In practice, Northern Ireland became a single party state with a large, disempowered minority.Political activism in the 1960s was also influenced by the civil rights movement in the US and the increase in the Catholic student body in universities. At some point during the 20th century, the dynamics of Northern Ireland became seen as a problem that didn’t apply to the rest of Britain.The 1998 solution was creative: the talks were taken out of the UK context and put into a wider context with the United States and the EU.The Good Friday left the categories of nationalists vs. unionists intact. Today, Unionism in the North has become a new phenomenon focused on its own domestic welfare and constituency. The worst nightmare of Unionism is coming true: when the Troubles started, 33% of the population was Catholic. This summer, there will probably no longer be a culturally Protestant majority.Brexit has revived talk of unification. But reunification could take many different forms.Mentioned in this Episode:Niamh’s book, Ireland and the Great War: A Social and Political HistoryRichard’s book, Peace in Ireland: The War of IdeasThe Good Friday AgreementFurther Learning: David McKittrick and David McVea, Making Sense of the TroublesAlvin Jackson, The Two UnionsMarking the centenary of Northern IrelandAnd as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be... See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information. Become a member at https://plus.acast.com/s/talkingpolitics.
45 minutes | 12 days ago
What Does Jeremy Think?
This week we talk to Suzanne Heywood about her memoir of her late husband, Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood - the man who helped to run Britain for more than two decades, working with four different prime ministers. From Black Wednesday to Brexit, from the Blair/Brown battles to the surprising successes of the Coalition, Jeremy Heywood had a unique position at the heart of British politics. We discuss what he did, what he learned and what he wished had turned out differently. Talking Points:The book starts with the ERM crisis.This was the start of a story that arguably runs through Brexit.Jeremy told David Cameron that he would need to address immigration with Europe, but he knew that this would be difficult.Blair had a huge parliamentary majority; this meant he could do many of the things that Jeremy wanted to see done.Jeremy was positive about how much had been achieved, particularly in public services.Progress was more difficult under Brown. The financial crisis created enormous strain.Jeremy and Gordon Brown worked very closely together on the financial crisis.During political transitions, all the ‘in-flight’ initiatives pause. Any one of them may or may not land as you previously expected.As a civil servant, you also have to be able to switch your personal loyalties.The change in style between governments can be significant. New administrations come in with a new language, a new tone.Civil servants have to keep the show on the road, and also adapt.At what point do civil servants have to swallow their personal objections and get on with things? Ministers represent the electorate; civil servants support ministers in delivering on their promises.Civil servants can push and make certain arguments, but once a decision is made, they have to move forward with implementation.Jeremy’s real genius was in relationships.He inspired people; they wanted to do their best for him.Mentioned in this Episode:What Does Jeremy Think? Suzanne HeywoodFurther Learning: The Talking Politics Guide to … Being a Civil Servant‘Remembering Jeremy Heywood,’ in The GuardianBronwen Maddox reviews Suzanne’s book for the FTFrom our archives… The Next Referendum? And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information. Become a member at https://plus.acast.com/s/talkingpolitics.
41 minutes | 19 days ago
Is Boris Back?
David and Helen talk to Nick Timothy, former chief of staff in Downing Street under Theresa May, about the future for Boris Johnson's government. Is he now safe from leadership challenges? Can he hold together the coalition that won the 2019 election? Is Keir Starmer the one under pressure? Plus we discuss where the next big destabilising threat to this government might come from: Scotland, Northern Ireland, the EU, China?Talking Points:Is Johnson’s political position more secure now?If the government can end on a high note with the vaccine rollout, that might be what people remember.Boris probably doesn’t want to be an austerity prime minister.Sunak wants to get the economy moving and send some signals to the market that there’s fiscal responsibility.Sunak may also want to create a fiscal dividing line with Labour.But without financial market pressure, it’s hard to see how Sunak is going to win this argument about fiscal probity.Political reality, and new voters, may push the Tories toward more spending against the instincts of many MPs.Starmer still faces serious structural problems: Labour is in trouble in Scotland and the increasing importance of cultural issues create problems for Labour in the Red Wall.Although the government has made mistakes with the pandemic, public opinion has been fairly understanding.Starmer hasn’t really been able to talk about anything other than the pandemic.Who is in the biggest trouble in Scotland?Johnson faces big issues around the union, but in terms of electoral outcomes, it’s probably Starmer.What would happen if a government without an English majority has to act as an English government again due to a crisis? Johnson is particularly unpopular in Scotland. The Tories are worried about the union, but there aren’t obvious solutions. Northern Ireland is at the center of these problems. Mentioned in this Episode:Tom McTague in the Atlantic, ‘Britain’s pandemic story can still be rewritten’Nick Timothy in The TelegraphFurther Learning:Are MPs out of sync with their voters? What is the Union? On Johnson’s unpopularity in ScotlandMore on the Northern Irish Protocol And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information. Become a member at https://plus.acast.com/s/talkingpolitics.
35 minutes | a month ago
Rating the Government on Covid
David talks to Bronwen Maddox, Director of the Institute for Government, about how well the Johnson government has performed over the past year of the pandemic. There have been some successes - the furlough scheme, vaccines - and plenty of failures - education policy, health outcomes. But which were the key choices? Who can claim the credit? And where does the blame really lie? Plus we discuss how much personality still matters in political decision-making.Talking Points:What has the government done well over the last year?It got financial support to a lot of people, surprisingly quickly.Building this infrastructure was inadvertent—it was for Universal Credit. Vaccines have been heralded as a success story; can the government really claim credit?It has been funneling money to some of the groups that were successful.The government did a good job in buying vaccines and choosing where to invest.In the rollout, you get something analogous to test and trace. Much of this is being done through the NHS, which makes it easier.What went the most wrong?There were at least 20,000 care home deaths in the first few months. And just about half of the deaths have happened since mid-November. These both look avoidable.The education mistakes were disastrous. A case often made against this government is that one of their key problems is timing. Johnson’s instinct to delay a decision in the middle of uncertainty might in other circumstances be more positive, but so many times the delay has been damaging. The government says it’s been following the science, but science is often uncertain too.It’s hard for politicians to communicate uncertainty.Still, people in the UK still trust scientists despite the government’s communications failures.With coronavirus, Starmer opted for a politics of competence.If your opponents start doing something competently (ie the vaccine rollout), then what do you do?The politics of competence doesn’t get people fired up in the streets.People often take competence for granted. They want something on top of that.Mentioned in this Episode:What Does Jeremy Think? By Suzanne HeywoodFurther Learning: Bronwen’s recent report, ‘Coronavirus: no going back to normal’Covid chaos: How the UK handled the coronavirus crisis, from the Guardian‘How the UK boosted its vaccine manufacturing capacity,’ from the FTThe latest on the vaccine rolloutAnd as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information. Become a member at https://plus.acast.com/s/talkingpolitics.
28 minutes | a month ago
The Coup in Burma
In this extra episode David catches up with Thant Myint-U to discuss the latest developments in Burma (Myanmar), following the overthrow of Aung San Suu Kyi's government. What prompted the generals to act? What do the protestors want? And what does it mean for the future of Burmese democracy? Thant Myint-U is the author of The Hidden History of Burma.Further Readinghttps://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v41/n22/thant-myint-u/not-a-single-year-s-peacehttps://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/Myanmar-should-use-COVID-crisis-to-end-30-years-of-crony-capitalismhttps://www.frontiermyanmar.net/en/myanmar-needs-to-reimagine-its-economic-future/http://themimu.info/sites/themimu.info/files/documents/Policy_Note_Poverty_Food_Insecurity_Social_Protection_during_COVID-19_IFPRI_Nov2020.pdf See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information. Become a member at https://plus.acast.com/s/talkingpolitics.
49 minutes | a month ago
What is the Union?
For this first in our series looking at the future of the UK, we talk to the historian Colin Kidd about the origins of the Union and the ideas that underpin it. Is the island of Britain a natural territorial political unit? Is nationalism compatible with Unionism? What changed in the 1970s? Plus we discuss how the shifting character of the SNP has shaped the arguments for and against the Union.Talking Points:Historically, the Kings of England considered themselves rulers of the whole island.But any large community must be imagined. It’s inherently artificial.Those who have tried to impose unified rule over the island by force have historically struggled.England has served as a quasi-imperial power on the island.The union in 1707 was a product of contingency, part of a succession crisis. At the time, the real drama was Jacobitism, not the English versus the Scots.What united Britain in the 18th century is not so much positive factors, but an ongoing series of wars.The height of British consciousness came during the two world wars.What happened in the 60s and 70s that made the union look less attractive?The 70s with the election of Thatcher are the crucial decade. Asymmetrical devolution has been destabilizing for the union.Secularization led to Scots moving away from private identities being linked to denominational allegiances to a broader, more secular national identity.The SNP in the 1930s had little traction; the communists were more influential.It’s only in the 1960s that the SNP made a breakthrough. For at least a time, there was a sense of coexistence between patriotism and Britishness.The BBC from the 1920s to 1970s helped cement an authentic sense of British nationhood.Labour played an important part of this story; British patriotism was tied to collective war experiences, the welfare state. When those things came under pressure in the 1970s, finding an outlet for union patriotism became more difficult.The SNP is a curious hybrid: it includes hard-core nationalists, but also social democrats, like Sturgeon, who think the best way to preserve the welfare state in Scotland is by going it alone.The unionist/nationalist binary might not be helpful; arguably the most important binary is within the SNP itself. Mentioned in this Episode:Colin’s book, Union and UnionismsBenedict Anderson, Imagined CommunitiesLinda Colley, BritonsThe Guardian on the Labour Party’s new strategy Further Learning: Sturgeon vs Salmond (from the New Statesman) From Brexit to Scottish IndependenceAnd as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here:
48 minutes | a month ago
History of Ideas S2 E1 : Rousseau on Inequality
This is episode 1 of the new HISTORY OF IDEAS series from Talking Politics. To hear the remaining 11 episodes, please subscribe to History of Ideas!Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality (also known as the Second Discourse) tells the story of all human history to answer one simple question: how did we end up in such an unequal world? David explores the steps Rousseau traces in the fall of humankind and asks whether this is a radical alternative to the vision offered by Hobbes or just a variant on it. Is Rousseau really such a nice philosopher?Free online version of textRecommended version to purchaseGoing deeper…Leo Damrosch, Jean Jacques Rousseau: Restless Genius (2005)David Edmonds and John Eidinow, Rousseau’s Dog (2007)Pankaj Mishra, ‘How Rousseau predicted Trump’, The New Yorker (2016)(Audio) In Our Time, The Social Contract See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information. Become a member at https://plus.acast.com/s/talkingpolitics.
46 minutes | a month ago
Germany, Italy, Coalitions and Vaccines
We look at two countries where things may be changing: Germany, as it starts to imagine life beyond Merkel, and Italy, after the resignation of the prime minister. Would Armin Laschet as Chancellor mean business as usual? Can Conte cobble together a new government? Where are the biggest challenges to the established order coming from? Plus we talk about the new politics of vaccine nationalism. With Helen Thompson, Hans Kundnani and Lucia Rubinelli.Talking Points:In some ways Germany is in a state of continuity, rather than flux.Armin Laschet is a continuity candidate. Though it’s not clear that he will be the candidate for chancellor in the September election.Were Laschet to become chancellor, you would probably have a Black-Green coalition. Has the pandemic made coalition formation less difficult? If so, it would be because the Christian Democrats are in a stronger position than they were.The German Greens may be different from other Green parties.When the Greens emerged in the late 70s/early 80s, it wasn’t clearly a left-wing party.The Greens have become more centrist on economic issues, and the Christian Democrats have moved left on environmental questions.As environmental politics becomes bigger, is there a constituency that will oppose this? Anti-Americanism in Germany is now quite high.Ultimately, the Germany-US relation is more driven by structural factors; Germans don’t believe that they need the United States in the way they did during the Cold War.How committed is Germany to other European states that do feel threatened by Russia? Conte resigned yesterday; he has 72 hours to try to come back.Conte resigned because Renzi decided to recall two of his ministers plus an undersecretary.Renzi said he no longer shares the method that the government is using, and he accused Conte of undermining democratic institutions through emergency legislation.Renzi accused Conte of not having a long-term plan for economic development and criticized his statist plans for the recovery fund.He also wants the government to accept the European Stability Mechanism for healthcare.These are a lot of demands for someone polling at close to nothing. The other two coalition partners don’t want anything to do with Renzi anymore. The question is whether they will stick to it and find a different majority, which seems difficult, or, whether they decide to bring Renzi back into government and get rid of Conte.The only disciplining effect here seems to be a fear of elections—and Salvini.Conte was initially meant to be a placeholder prime minister.That changed with the second Conte government (from Summer 2019). The new coalition gave him more power. This grew with the pandemic.The conflict over how Italy spends its money is coming back in full force.Further Learning: More on Laschet and the struggle to unite the partyHans’ essay on the costs of convergence More from Hans on Germany’s democratic dysfunctionality More on Conte’s decision to quit
56 minutes | 2 months ago
David, Helen and Gary reflect on what lies ahead for American politics and for the Biden administration. Does Trump pose more of a threat from inside or outside the Republican party? Is immigration about to become the central partisan dividing line once again? How much good can calls for unity do in such a fractured country? Plus, we look at Trump's list of entrants for his garden of national heroes. From Emily Dickinson to Hannah Arendt to Woody Guthrie - but no Bruce Springsteen. What's going on?Talking Points:Many in the Republican Party, including McConnell, have never liked Trump—are they now breaking with him?Attempts to establish new parties can shake up American politics, but they rarely succeed.The Trump candidacy was a disaster for the Republican establishment from the beginning. McConnell is willing to consider impeachment because Trump still represents a threat to the mainstream Republican Party.Success in American party politics requires party organization in all 50 states.This is not the kind of work that generally appeals to Trump.He will probably want to influence the political process from the outside, to make the existing system ungovernable.The Biden administration wants to be much more ambitious on immigration.Previous attempts at immigration reform have failed.Biden has an opportunity to demonstrate government competence by focusing on vaccinations.Biden has made clear that climate is a priority.This is politically useful for holding together the Democratic party.Biden has already pledged to cancel the Keystone Pipeline; at least on some issues he’s willing to take on the oil and gas industry.This quickly gets into foreign policy issues, especially re China.Biden’s initial window is really two years, not four.Democrats should not be counting on a majority in the 2022 elections.They need to demonstrate the competence of the federal government. Though it may be difficult for any government to appear competent these days.Mentioned in this Episode:‘The Garden of American Heroes’ On Fred Trump and Woody GuthrieThe text of Joe Biden’s inaugural addressFurther Learning: More on Biden’s immigration planGreen New Deal? Talking Politics American Histories… Monopoly and MuckrakingAnd as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information. Become a member at https://plus.acast.com/s/talkingpolitics.
52 minutes | 2 months ago
The Long-term Legacy of Brexit
David and Helen are joined by Diane Coyle and Anand Menon to have another go at pinning down the long term consequences of Brexit. Now we have a deal, what are the prospects for rebalancing the UK economy? Do EU politicians want a post-Brexit UK to succeed or to fail? Can Labour really avoid re-opening the Brexit wars for the next four years? Plus, an update on the next series of History of Ideas.Talking Points: Because of Brexit there is more friction in trade with the EU. People will feel the friction more and more as we get back to normal volumes of trade.Right now the volume is relatively low both because of Covid and because of seasonal fluctuations (things slow down after the holidays).It will be hard to disentangle Brexit effects from Covid effects. We will be talking about Brexit for a long time.Future governments will be able to score easy economic wins by aligning more closely with the EU, although this may involve political trade offs. This may not be true when it comes to financial services. This trade agreement means that choices have to be made over and over again.The British economy is taking two shocks: separating from the EU but also separating from what Osborne and Cameron called a golden era of UK-China economic relations.EU policy and British policy on China are diverging.The Uk government may focus more on India and other non-Chinese Pacific economies.Brexit does create some opportunities.The UK is a world leader in AI, and there is a commitment to investing in energy technology, especially green energy.The UK is also a world leader in higher education and the creative sector; the problem is that the government has declared a sort of culture war.A German-led EU tends to treat geopolitical questions as primarily economic questions rather than long-term security questions. China is going to put that commitment, formalized in the China Investment pact, to the test.Britain is now the liberal European state when it comes to foreign policy.The institutions that have been so successful at managing intra-European imbalances now prevent the EU from being an effective actor in international relations.Mentioned in this Episode:Johnson’s piece for The Financial Times on green energyAnand on the HuffPo podcast with Rosie DuffieldThe UK in a Changing Europe‘Who Killed Soft Brexit?’ Jill Rutter and Anand for ProspectFurther Learning: EU and China agree new investment treaty (from the FT)More on Germany and EU politics on ChinaAnd as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information. Become a member at https://plus.acast.com/s/talkingpolitics.
28 minutes | 2 months ago
Jill Lepore on the Insurrection
David talks to historian Jill Lepore about what took place at the Capitol on January 6th. What should we call it? What can we compare it to? And what should happen next? Plus we ask how Biden ought to address what happened in his inaugural next week. Are we past the time for talk about reconciliation?Talking Points:Is there a word for what happened in the US on 6 Jan? Many Republicans are still defending the insurrection. The likes of Limbaugh and Gingrich are calling it a ‘march.’The American Right always wants to resurrect the American Revolution and the Left wants to resurrect the Civil War.To call it an ‘insurrection’ is to evoke the language used to bar former Confederates from holding federal office.A problem with Trump’s entire presidency has been that reporters and commentators have sought precedents in American history, but Jill thinks nothing in American history has been like this.Should we be looking to other countries, other failed democracies, for lessons? How do we balance the uniqueness of Trumpism with the familiarity of the things it draws upon?Unlike right-movements in countries like Hungary and Turkey, the Trump project did not successfully co-opt the institutions of the state.American democracy is older than some of these other examples.The Conservative movement over the last few decades has managed to capture many institutions, namely the courts—although this is not necessarily Trumpism.When Trump is out of office will it be easier for him to become a ‘martyr?’ Conviction in an impeachment proceeding could be good for mainstream Republicans. It may also make a split in the party more likely.Mentioned in this Episode:Jill in The New Yorker, ‘What Should We Call the Sixth of January’Jill on inaugural addresses for The New YorkerThe Article of Impeachment against TrumpJill in The Washington Post on letting history judge TrumpFrom our archives… Jill on the American NationAnd as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information. Become a member at https://plus.acast.com/s/talkingpolitics.
54 minutes | 2 months ago
New Year, New World?
David and Helen look at what's changed - and what hasn't - since we last spoke, from Brexit to Biden to Covid. Has the Brexit deal really given the UK a chance to do things differently? Do Democrat wins in the Georgia Senate races open up new possibilities for Biden? What is at stake in the politics of vaccination? Plus, we talk about where things now stand for the future of the Union.*Recorded before the events in Washington on Wednesday *Talking Points:What can the UK do that it couldn’t do before Brexit? From the start, the two biggest issues for Cameron were freedom of movement and financial services regulation.For the City, Brexit is a tradeoff. Although financial services will not be regulated in the EU, the American investment banks in London are unhappy about being shut out of equivalence for trading.Johnson is talking about innovation and dynamism. He doesn’t seem willing to say it’s about migration and the City of London.Northern Ireland and Scotland will both be key questions that we will talk about in greater depth this year.There will be a growing sense of Northern Ireland’s separateness. The deal creates opportunities and risks for the government in Dublin.A trade deal changes what Scottish independence would mean.Meanwhile, in the USA… the Democrats now have control of the Senate.This election could indicate the potential of a remarkable new coalition for the Democratic party.Or it could indicate a future where everything is contested.What can Biden get done before the next midterms? During the Obama years, the Republicans were extremely effective at voting as an oppositional bloc. Holding the Democratic senators together won’t be easy and Biden will not be able to blame oppositional Republicans for any failure to get things done.However a key benefit for the Democrats is that they will be able to confirm nominees.Mentioned in this Episode:Matthew Parris in the TimesDavid’s winter talk: Did Covid kill the climate? Further Learning:From December… From Brexit to Scottish IndependenceMore on the partition of IrelandMore on the Georgia election resultsMore on the European vaccine rolloutFrom November… Post-Covid Economics with Adam ToozeAnd as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information. Become a member at https://plus.acast.com/s/talkingpolitics.
29 minutes | 2 months ago
How to Fix British Democracy?
Another recent talk by David on democracy: does it make sense to talk about fixing British democracy, and if so, how? David discusses electoral reform, institutional change and he returns to the question of votes for children. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information. Become a member at https://plus.acast.com/s/talkingpolitics.
42 minutes | 2 months ago
Did Covid Kill the Climate?
A recording of a recent talk by David on what we've learned in 2020 about the resilience of democratic societies in the face of disaster. Has the experience of Covid shown us how we can deal with climate change, or has it shown us what we are missing? An argument about optimism, pessimism and everything in between. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information. Become a member at https://plus.acast.com/s/talkingpolitics.
48 minutes | 2 months ago
Looking Back, Looking Forward
This week David, Helen and our producer Catherine Carr look back at five years of podcasting and five years of crazy politics, to pick our favourite moments and to discuss what we've learned. From the 2015 general election to the current crisis, via the Corn Laws and Crashed, the politics of abortion and super forecasting, Corbyn and nuclear weapons. Plus, we'll let you know about some of our plans for 2021.Episodes Mentioned in this Episode: Crashed with Adam ToozeAdam Tooze on post-COVID economicsThe Corn Laws with Boyd HiltonAnother Shock! (From 2017) with Finbarr LiveseyThe Talking Politics Guide… to Nuclear Weapons with Aaron RapportSuperforecasting with David SpiegelhalterAmerican Histories: The Great Abortion Switcheroo with Sarah ChurchwellCatherine’s new podcast, Relatively.And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information. Become a member at https://plus.acast.com/s/talkingpolitics.
46 minutes | 3 months ago
Where is the Opposition?
We look past Covid and Brexit to ask where the long-term opposition to Johnson's government is going to come from. Can Corbynism remain a force in British politics, even without Corbyn? Is there room for a challenge to the Conservatives from the right? Will climate politics drive street protest politics or can it help the Greens? Plus we consider whether Nicola Sturgeon is really the leader of the opposition. With Helen Thompson and Chris Brooke.Talking Points:Corbynist energy levels are low these days.There is a strong Corbynist presence on Twitter and in certain media institutions, but it’s not clear that it extends far beyond those bubbles.Much of the radical left politics in the near future will be defensive.When Starmer ran for leader, he essentially offered Corbynism without Corbyn.The manifestos of 2017 and 2019 were popular inside the Labour Party and reasonably popular with the public. Corbyn did move the party out of New Labour’s shadow. Starmer has inherited a party that is firmly outside the New Labour mainstream.Although some Corbynists fear a return to New Labour-esque politics, Labour now seems to be a social democratic party in the European mold. Will the Green Party benefit from these developments?Helen thinks that we are more likely to see increased green activism than a resurgence in Green Party politics.Many on the left are disenchanted with parliamentary politics.And over the last couple of years, the major parties have shifted on climate. If Johnson is really committed to greener politics, does that open space on the right?Farage is positioning himself in this gap.This could intersect with a rebellion against lockdown.What should Starmer do about Scotland?Could Starmer make a case that the democratic voice of the people of Scotland must be heard, and then make a social democratic case for the Union?A more federal union is going to require stronger institutions in England, which is probably to Labour’s disadvantage. Time for the SNP to weaken is probably the best way forward for both unionist parties.Mentioned in this Episode:This Land by Owen JonesFurther Learning: James Butler on the Corbyn project for the LRBMore on Macron, the constitution, and climate politicsFrom our archives… Labour’s Fault LinesA profile of Andy Burnham from The GuardianAnd as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information. Become a member at https://plus.acast.com/s/talkingpolitics.
41 minutes | 3 months ago
What's Next for France and Italy?
As we wait for a Brexit deal or no deal, we discuss what the next year might hold for French and Italian politics. What are Macron's prospects as he heads towards the next presidential election? Has Giorgia Meloni replaced Matteo Salvini as the leader of the Italian far right? And what chance of a return to political normalcy in either country? With Lucia Rubinelli and Chris Bickerton.Talking Points: The Italian public is fed up with Brexit—there isn’t much public debate about it.Salvini is still playing with the idea that leaving the EU is a good idea, but not as seriously now. All the signals from the government suggest that Italy is lining up with Macron, but they aren’t trying to play a central role.There are particular issues that affect different member states. The broader European unity is now being tested on certain key issues.The Irish are particularly affected by no deal.For France, the most important issue is probably the level playing field. Fishing also has a powerful symbolic element to it.It may come down to member states being willing to make compromises with each other, or not. Italy was the first Western country to be hit by the virus and the first to lockdown. The response created a sense of pride.During summer, however, life went back to normal. It was basically a free-for-all.When cases began to climb again, the mood turned to frustration: frustration at the relationship between governments and regions, and frustration with certain policies, such as the closure of high schools.There is also the sense that Italy is lagging behind on the vaccine. Macron also went in earlier on lockdown, and came out of lockdown earlier too. The idea that Macron has authoritarian tendencies has become part of the debate over COVID. There has been an almost permanent sense of emergency stretching from the yellow vest period to today.COVID has blurred into a border debate about the balance between security and civil liberties in France.Mentioned in this Episode:Our last episode with LuciaFurther Learning: More on Johnson’s dinner with von der Leyen Why is fishing important in the Brexit trade talks?More on Article 24 in FranceA profile of Giorgia Meloni from Politico EuropeMore on France’s Green PartyAnd as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information. Become a member at https://plus.acast.com/s/talkingpolitics.
45 minutes | 3 months ago
From Brexit to Scottish Independence
We try to join the dots from the final days of the Brexit negotiations to the looming prospect of another referendum on Scottish independence. Can the government really risk a no-deal outcome? Will the SNP still hold a referendum if the courts say no? What will Labour do? Plus we ask how COVID politics intersects with the fate of the Union. With Helen Thompson, Anand Menon and Kenneth Armstrong.Talking Points:Will there be a Brexit deal?We know the concessions both sides would have to make. What we don’t know whether either side is willing to make the concessions.The negotiation that matters is perhaps the one going on in the prime minister’s head.Debates over lockdown have reopened the space to the Conservative Party’s right.The Eurozone faces its own problem: trying to rescue the EU Recovery Fund from the impasse over the rule of law issue in relation to Hungary and Poland. The Union is in a more precarious position than it was before.The SNP is doing surprisingly well. That gives Sturgeon some comfort in thinking that she can seek a mandate for another referendum if she wins a majority.How will they go about the referendum? Some people are floating the possibility of the Scottish parliament legislating for another referendum without the Section 30 order that would get consent from the UK.For people like Michael Gove, Scotland is a key reason to get a Brexit deal.There is undeniably support for independence in opinion polls, but can the SNP offer a coherent independence project?Helen thinks that they still haven’t resolved the currency question. There’s also the border issue.Can the SNP accept an independent Scotland outside of the European Union? Membership has been a key part of the independence offer. Will timing favor the SNP or Westminster? Brexit and Scotland are problems for Keir Starmer too.How will Starmer whip his MP’s to vote if a Brexit deal comes back? Labour without seats from Scotland will find it hard to win another election.Ultimately, the major economic event of this parliament is going to be Brexit, not COVID, or at least it will be close, so Labour needs to come up with some kind of narrative.Labour’s strength in Scotland bound the Union together. It hasn’t come back since 2011. This makes it hard for any party other than the Conservatives to be dominant in Westminster, particularly under conditions of asymmetrical devolution. Mentioned in this Episode:The UK in a Changing EuropeAlex Massie on the SNPFurther Learning: From the archives… Can Boris Survive Brexit? More on Starmer and the Brexit dealAnd as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information. Become a member at https://plus.acast.com/s/talkingpolitics.
54 minutes | 3 months ago
Young People vs Joe Biden
This week we talk about race and representation with Cathy Cohen of the GenForward Survey project based in Chicago. What do young Americans want from democratic politics? How do their priorities vary according to race and ethnicity? And can a Biden presidency deliver on the desire for real change? Plus we catch up with Jeevun Sandher and Michael Bankole of the Politics Jam podcast to explore a UK perspective on why young and minority voices find it so hard to be heard.Talking Points:We are seeing more racial and ethnic diversity in generations than ever before.Young people break for Biden, but for young white men, it was about 50-50.In 2012, a plurality of young whites voted for Romney. If we look only at generation we miss part of the story.The story about ‘young people’ is being driven by young people of colour.Does Biden have a problem with young people?Many young people voted against Trump rather than for Biden.They decided to vote against Trump and organize against Biden.What is the best method for achieving racial progress in the US? Young African Americans are pointing to the need for structural change.Young people are rejecting the idea that change comes from national-level voting. They are redefining what democratic practice might be.Young people broadly favor a more expansive state.The Biden agenda is more about tweaking at the edges.There is going to be a real tension. Will there be the infrastructure to mobilize young people? Can they pressure the administration?This generation is highly educated, but they are also precarious. There is an increasing mismatch between the promise of higher education and what it delivers.The younger generation is highly indebted because of higher education.In both the UK and the US, young people haven’t been represented well by the political system.There are specific issues that young people want to see addressed, including systemic racism.Ethnic differences among young people need to be taken into account in the UK too.The political class in the House of Commons is unrepresentative in many ways. It skews old and it skews white.Conservatives tend to represent white seats. The First-Past-the-Post system doesn’t incentivize serious engagement with ethnically diverse constituencies.Mentioned in this episode:The GenForward SurveyThe Black Youth ProjectPolitics JaMJeevun’s academic profileMichael’s academic profileAnne Phillips, The Politics of PresenceThomas Saalfeld on substantive representationAnd as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information. Become a member at https://plus.acast.com/s/talkingpolitics.
61 minutes | 3 months ago
David talks to author and radio host James O'Brien about everything from therapy to Brexit and from educational privilege to Keir Starmer's leadership of the Labour Party. Recorded as part of the Cambridge Literary Festival https://cambridgeliteraryfestival.com/. James's new book is How Not to be Wrong: The Art of Changing Your Mind. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information. Become a member at https://plus.acast.com/s/talkingpolitics.
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